Accra, Feb. 10, GNA Herbert Wigwe, co-founder of the largest bank in Nigeria, was among six people killed in a helicopter crash in California on Friday, according to multiple reports.
American news outlet, CBS reported that Wigwe’s wife, son and Abimbola Ogunbanjoa, a former Chair of Nigerian Exchange Group died in the crash.
According to semafor.com, Wigwe—who co-founded Access Bank—was on his way to attend Sunday’s Super Bowl in Las Vegas.
The Eurocopter EC 130 was headed to Las Vegas when it crashed Friday night near Nipton, between Nevada and Califonia.
The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in a statement confirmed all onboard the chopper were dead.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office reported that “no survivors have been located.”
Social Media Tributes
Mr Festus Keyamo, Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development of Nigeria, in a tribute on X said, “the reported tragic loss of my friend, brother and not-far-away neighbour in Lagos, Herbert Wigwe, the co-founder of Access Bank, the CEO of Access Holdings and the founder of Wigwe University, is very devastating.
“He was in my office earlier this week (where we took the pictures below) and actually left my office to fly out of the country and never came back. I am also shocked to learn his wife, son and other friends were involved in this tragedy,” he recounted their last moments together.
“We were on the verge of announcing something big for the aviation sector, the reason he actually came to the office with his entire team, both from Access and Wigwe University. This is surreal and I am lost for words,” the Aviation Minister said.
Mr Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President of Nigeria, in a tribute described Mr Wigwe as “One of Nigeria’s finest CEOs”.
“Today and always, let us remember that life is a precious gift – a chance to breathe, feel, love, experience and connect. Let’s honour this gift by living with purpose, kindness, and gratitude, making every moment count. Let us number our days,” he said.
“On behalf of my family, my heart goes out to their loved ones and everyone affected by this unfortunate incident. May their souls rest in peace,” Mr Abubakar, also the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Nigeria’s 2023 election, said.
Mr Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency, Nigeria said Wigwe “was profoundly committed to supporting Nigerian youth. Through The HOW Foundation, he dedicated himself to empowering the next generation, and his efforts to establish Wigwe University showcase his unwavering belief in the transformative power of education. Herbert’s legacy of nurturing young minds and fostering educational opportunities will continue to inspire us.”
Mr Gabby Otchere Darko, Chair, Africa Prosperity Forum, said the news of Wigwe’s passing was “a huge, unexpected loss to Africa’s financial infrastructure. It was only 22 years ago that Herbert Wigwe and Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede bought to turn one of the smallest of 89 banks then in Nigeria into one of the biggest banks in Africa.”
Profile of Herbert Wigwe
Mr. Wigwe started his professional career with Coopers & Lybrand Associates, an international firm of Chartered Accountants. He spent over 10 years at Guaranty Trust Bank Plc where he managed several portfolios, including financial institutions, large corporates and multinationals.
He left Guaranty Trust Bank as an Executive Director to co-lead the transformation of Access Bank Plc in March 2002 as Deputy Managing Director. He was appointed Group Managing Director/CEO effective January 1, 2014, and served in that capacity till May 2022. He was subsequently appointed a Non-Executive Director of the Bank effective May 2022.
Mr Wigwe is an alumnus of the Harvard Business School Executive Management Programme. He holds a master’s degree in Banking and International Finance from the University College of North Wales, a master’s degree in Financial Economics from the University of London and a B.Sc. degree in Accounting from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN). Mr Wigwe is the Chairman of The Access Bank (UK) Ltd and a Non-Executive Director of Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company Plc; FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange; Shared Agents Network Expansion Facilities Ltd and Agri-Business/ SME Enterprises Investment Scheme. He is also a member of the Governing Council of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.